Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Want to know what's up with this Whole30 thing? Click to read on....

It all started on my flight back home from Utah after Christmas. I was sitting in between two women, a college student decked out in lululemon and a working mom from Louisiana, who both happened to be doing Whole30. They talked about it for a good hour... completely unaware that I was even there. It would have been pretty annoying if it wasn't such an interesting topic! They sparked my curiosity and when we landed I started doing my research. Here are some of the basics:

What is Whole30?

The definition straight from the website is, "Established by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig (of Whole9) in April 2009, the Whole30® is our original nutritional program designed to change your life in 30 days."

What does that entail?

Whole30 has some pretty specific rules:
  • Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial.
  • Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking.
  • Do not eat grains. 
  • Do not eat legumes.
  • Do not eat dairy.
  • Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites.  
  • Do not try to re-create baked goods, junk foods, or treats* with “approved” ingredients.
  • You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program.

What can you eat?

Whole Foods. Meat, eggs, LOTS of vegetables, some fruits and healthy fats. The fewer ingredients, the better. Three balanced meals a day, with no snacks or "treats." The website outlines very extensively what is and isn't allowed.

What's the point?

Changing food habits. Heightening awareness.  Breaking bad food habits. Increasing energy. Sleeping better. The website lists hundreds of reasons to do it and potential benefits. Andrew and I already ate pretty healthy, but we also love treats. Going off sugar cold turkey for 30 days seemed impossible, but it also seemed like a good idea. Whole30 isn't supposed to be about weight loss, but it definitely happens. 

What did we eat?

Lots and lots of yummy, colorful whole foods. We tried a bunch of new recipes that we would have never tried if we weren't doing Whole30. We ate something different for dinner almost every night. It was definitely a worthwhile experiment.


Breakfast was the most challenging for me. I've never been a huge breakfast eater, mostly because I don't have a ton of time (I like sleep). Whole30 calls for 3 balanced meals a day, meaning you are supposed to have protein, veggies, and fat at every meal. Our first week I made a casserole on Sunday night and we would eat a piece each morning that week, which worked well.

I'm not an egg lover, so a lot of mornings I would just eat an apple with some Sunbutter (peanuts aren't allowed and I'm allergic to treenuts). If we exercised, I would definitely try to get some protein.

Good mornings were eggs scrambled with compliant sausage (no added sweeteners) and veggies and a side of berries, grapefruit, or unsweetened applesauce. We like this sausage

Some of my favorite breakfast combinations were scrambled eggs and spinach topped with Trader Joe's salsa verde, this egg and blueberry breakfast tortilla, and this breakfast casserole

Lunch was easy as long as we prepped the night before. It was pretty much a rotation between leftovers or tuna. That sounds boring, but we had lots of tasty leftovers! We bought tuna at Costco (the Kirkland brand does not contain soy like most brands). 

On Whole30, you are supposed to avoid snacking. Lunches were usually accompanied by a bag of crunchy veggies (cherry tomatoes, baby carrotts, mini bell peppers, etc.) and an easy to eat fruit (apple or orange). Occasionally I would take a box of raisins as well. Raisins have been my best friend lately.
I ate lots of tuna for lunch. It's easy and a great source of protein. We mixed it with homemade mayo, compliant mustard, and compliant pickles. It's also great with some chopped up dried cherries (unsweetened and unsulphured) and diced apples and served on a bed of spinach.


Dinner was by far the most fun. I loved finding all kinds of new recipes to try. We ate a LOT of different things, many of which we would have never tried if we were eating like we normally do, like spaghetti squash or cauliflower rice. I pinned all the dinner recipes I made and liked on my Whole30 board here, but I'll put some of our favorite recipes down below.

Soups were really awesome cause they make a lot and are good for leftovers. I always tried to make more than enough so that we had some for the next day's lunch. 

If you do Whole30, be prepared to spend more on groceries and to spend a lot more time in the kitchen. Eating whole foods means that almost any prepackaged food is out, so there is a lot of food prep. We also ate more meat than we normally do (gotta stay full) so that increased our grocery bill.

We budgeted $110/week and averaged $108.34/week (under budget!), so about $50/week per person. Before Whole30, we were spending around $60-70/week total. We also only ate out for dinner once the entire time and never went out for lunch, so we definitely saved on that end.

The Shepherd's pie was one of my favorites because it was super filling and has lots of leftovers. You could make it with anything you have on hand, but here are the basics: roast your favorite veggies (we did carrots and beans) for the bottom layer, brown ground meat of choice with some onion then mix it with a can of diced/pureed tomatoes for the second layer, top with mashed potatoes (we did one sweet and one regular with ghee and some coconut milk). Bake at 350 until heated through.

Why did we do it?

After doing tons of reading, I kind of just wanted to take the challenge. Could we do it? 30 days seems like forever, but in the end... it's only 30 days. It sounded like a great way to jumpstart our new year, get motivated to eat better, and gain a lot of potential benefits along the way. 

Andrew was NOT excited about it at first. I'm the one in charge of all the cooking though, and I told him that he'd be eating what I was eating so he might as well. That convinced him... we just had to decide when to start

Was it hard? 

Yes it was hard, but it was hard in different ways than I thought it would be. After reading up a lot, I thought I would feel pretty awful at the beginning during the "detox" phase... but we never really went through that. I had a headache on day 2 and that was it. It was hard because it took more time than I thought it would, and you really have to think about everything you eat. Sometimes you second guess eating something, just because it tastes good!

Was it worth it?
Absolutely. I honestly think that if you have the time and a little extra in your budget, you should try it. I didn't read the book and don't know as much about the science behind it, but I think it's a great way to evaluate your eating habits and see how you can eat better. It's so interesting to be more aware about what you are eating and to recognize that you don't need dessert every night (or any night) to survive. 

Do I have any regrets?

Only one: not taking a legit before picture! Not sure how this girl who documents everything forgot to do that. Luckily we did take pictures at the beach so we got a little bit of comparison.

What benefits did we see?

Starting Weight: 125 lbs, 29.4% Body Fat
Ending Weight: 115.8 lbs, 24.9% Body Fat
Total Difference: 9.2 lbs, 4.5% Body Fat

Overall, I just feel better. Doing this motivated me to start working out regularly and to drink lots more water. I feel more fit and lean than when I began. I've definitely been more aware of how I was snacking before when I really didn't need to, I just did because it was available. I don't have that mid-afternoon energy slump at work. I haven't broken a nail this entire month, but that might just be luck. 


Starting Weight: 174.6 lbs, 20.4% Body Fat
Ending Weight: 158.6 lbs, 16% Body Fat
Total Difference: 16 lbs, 4.4% Body Fat

Benefits that I (Andrew) saw:
       I had to have something sweet, either some gummies or brownies made by Madeline, every single day. I wanted a reason to cut down and this gave me the reason to stop.
      It taught me that I can say no to free food. 
      I have always finished everything on my plate, even when I was stuffed. This was something that had to change and I feel as if I have been able to stop when needed and be okay with it.
      I lost the weight that I had gained over the past few years.
      It made both of us more active and although the diet is done, I have become to enjoy exercising.
      I would like to add that it does take a lot more time shopping because you have to read every label.

When is a good time to do it?

There's never a good time to do it. There is always going to be a holiday, a trip, a special occasion, or something where food is involved if you pick any given 30 days in a year. It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and we had plenty of time to meal plan and grocery shop... so we decided to just go for it!

We got invited to a party on SuperBowl Sunday, so we decided to come prepared. I made a Whole30 friendly dip with lots of fresh veggies to share, and Andrew and I made some Buffalo Ranch meatballs and wings so we wouldn't be tempted by the delicious non-plan food. Everyone loved the dip and didn't notice that it wasn't your typical ranch.
We also had Valentine's Day during our Whole30. Even though sugar cookies and giant Reese's hearts were tempting, we survived by eating in and enjoying fresh berries with some coconut whipped cream. 
When we went to a movie, we brought some unsweetened dried pineapple and freeze dried mango from TJ's so the movie snacks weren't too tempting. It's all about being prepared.

How do you have a successful Whole30?

Planning and preparation. Every saturday this month has been completely dedicated to meal planning and grocery shopping. Every night we made sure to prep lunch for the next day so we wouldn't be tempted to eat something off plan. If we had to go to a social event, we brought our own food or called ahead and made sure the restaurant had something we could eat. 

Creativity is also important. It can be easy to get bored of the same ingredients over and over. Pinterest is your best friend. Keeping things interesting helps avoid food boredom.

Teamwork. I couldn't have done this on my own. Having a buddy to double check labels, brave the grocery store, and wake up at 6 AM to run with makes a huge difference.

Grocery Shoppin' like CRAZY.
Meal planning during lunch.

My Whole30 Staples:

Aside from the meat, veg, and fruits that you buy for all your recipes, here are a few things that I would definitely suggest having on hand during your Whole30:

  • Homemade Mayowe used this recipe 
  • Ghee—clarified butter that is compliant 
  • Sunbutteror some type of nut-butter
  • Avacadosguac on everything
  • Good Mustardno sugar or white wine
  • Tunano soy
  • Tessemae's Balsamic Dressingfound at Whole Foods
  • Trader Joe's Salsa Verdegreat for topping eggs and anything with sweet potato
  • Raisinslow calorie and not a lot of sugar, makes a good snack when you HAVE to have something
  • Hot Sauceread your label
  • Coconut MilkThai Kitchen brand

Where did you shop?

We are lucky to be living in South Florida where we have nice warm weather and good produce year round. Most of our shopping was done at The Boys Market where we got all our produce and some meat. 

We bought most of our meat, eggs, and spices at Trader Joe's. They have delicious Salsa Verde, easy and yummy frozen turkey burgers, and great sweetener-free dried fruit.

We took one trip to Costco for some staples, but it's too far away to go regularly. Here's a good list of what to buy at Costco. We got a couple specialty items, like breakfast sausage, at Whole Foods, but everything is just so expensive there!

Will I keep eating like this forever?

Nope. I'm definitely a believer in moderation in all things. Do I want to snack less? Yes. Do I want to keep including more whole foods in my diet? Yes. Do I need some type of grain at every meal to fill me up? No. But do I never want to eat grains, dairy, legumes, or sugar again? That just isn't realistic. It's been a great experiment, and I do love the way I feel, but I definitely think I can maintain the good habits and still eat a little bit of everything I love.

All in all, it was a challenge, but it was well worth our time and $$. If you are thinking about doing it, then go for it! I feel like we have accomplished a huge thing, and it's nice to have something to be proud of. 

It also feels real, real good to be done!!! 


  1. Good for you and Andrew! You two are so cute, what a great thing to do together!

  2. I SO have to do this! Talking to Tyler about it and going shopping this weekend! Thanks for all the info :) hope I can stick to it as well as you did!

  3. Way to go you two! You look awesome!